How do you assess an external / competitive app or team’s performance marketing strategies?
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This is a great question, and I think it's something that everyone should do before they compare their progress to another company. Here's what I do:
- I look on LinkedIn to get a sense of how large the UA team is and what its composition looks like. It's not rare to see a company that is clearly growing very rapidly through advertising that has no UA team. In these cases, I presume that they are using external agencies for UA and may not be scaling profitably / efficiently;
- If I do find a UA team for the company on LinkedIn, I look at their backgrounds and roles. Are they all junior media buyers? Do they have a marketing engineering team or dedicated marketing analysts? How long have people been at the company -- do they churn through marketing people, or is their team un-poachable?
- Are they growing? You see lots of VPs of Growth on stage at conferences talking about all of the innovative things they are doing with marketing / "growth loops" that aren't actually driving growth for their companies. Try to find revenue numbers / install numbers / DAU numbers for the company over time;
- Does the company employ many people with similar-sounding job titles / is it clear who owns marketing at the company? In my experience, when a company has a Head of Growth and a Head of Marketing and a Head of User Acquisition and a Head of Brand Marketing and a Head of Digital Marketing and a Head of Programmatic Marketing etc., they're poorly organized and their marketing function probably isn't effective;
- This is a controversial take but I stand by it: do their junior employees participate in a lot of vendor marketing (eg. Liftoff Mobile Heroes, AppsFlyer MaMA, etc.)? I have experienced that when this is the case, there isn't strong leadership in the team -- the CMO / Director of Marketing / Head of Marketing / etc. isn't closely involved in the day-to-day mechanics of operating the marketing function and has lost touch with what the team is doing. No company should want their employees participating in these things; if they are, it's usually because the marketing leader isn't interfacing with the team often / at all, and that usually also means that the team isn't operating optimally / efficiently;
- I look in the Facebook Ads Library / SensorTower to see how many ads the company is launching on a weekly / monthly basis. Are they consistently producing new creative? How conceptually diverse is the creative they are publishing regularly? Are they clearly optimizing for IG?;
- Continuing on the creative assessment: are they clearly running events-focused ads (for games) or seasonal ads? Are they clearly running re-targeting / re-engagement ads?
- When I've interviewed people that worked at that company: were they smart? Did they know more than basic UA talking points like "measure everything!" or "LTV > CAC!"? How did they perform on the skills test? What were their backgrounds?
These are just a few things that I think that insight into the effectiveness of a UA team can be gleaned from. I'd be really happy to hear thoughts from other people, though, as this is a really difficult thing to do.
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